US Catholic Church to observe National Migration Week
By Vatican News staff reporter
As dioceses across the United States prepare to celebrate the National Migration Week from September 19-25, the US Bishops are inviting the faithful to encounter, accompany, pray and reach out to all migrants and refugees, displaced persons, and victims of human trafficking.
The World Day of Migrants and Refugees
The National week has been observed annually by the Catholic Church in the United States since 1980 in conjunction with the the Vaticans’ World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) which is celebrated on the last Sunday of September to encourage Catholics across the globe to express concern for vulnerable persons on the move, to join together in prayer, and to increase awareness about the opportunities that migration can offer.
A critical moment to reflect on the issue of migration
“This week provides a special opportunity for encounter, accompaniment, and prayer, as well as a chance for Catholics and others of good will to join together in support of those who depend on our collective voice”, said in a statement the chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, noting that “There has never been a more critical moment to reflect on the issue of migration, as we witness, for the first time in history, over 100 million forcibly displaced persons in the world”.
Building the future with migrants and refugees
The prelate draws attention in particular to the plight of Ukrainians fleeing war in their country, and the Afghan asylum seekers escaping from the Taliban regime. He also mentions the so called "Dreamers" — the young undocumented immigrants who were illegally brought to the United States as children, and who have lived and gone to school there —, those with temporary protections, and undocumented agricultural workers. All of these people, he points out, “have an important role to play in building the future of our country—just as they have a role in building the Kingdom of God”.
“Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees,” is the theme of this year’s National Migration Week in line with the one chosen by Pope Francis for WDMR 2022. In his annual message, the Holy Father underscores that no one can be excluded from the work of construction that leads to God’s Kingdom. “God’s plan,” he says, “is essentially inclusive and gives priority to those living on the existential peripheries. Among them are many migrants and refugees, displaced persons, and victims of trafficking.”
A divisive political issue
As in many other countries, immigration and border security policies continue to be a divisive political issue in the United States, with increasingly sharp divisions between Republicans and Democrats. As midterm elections in November draw closer, debate over the issue has become even more polarized.
Tensions reached a new high this week when Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running for re-election in November, flew some 50 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, a highly affluent summer resort area in Massachusetts, as part of a tactic in which Republican-led states have shipped busloads of migrants to liberal bastions like Washington and New York to protest President Joe Biden's immigration policies.
Local residents, alongside Christian charities have joined to provide relief and shelter to Latin American migrants, before they were tranferred on Friday to a military base in Cape Cod where they have been given a place to sleep and services, including healthcare and access to counselling.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has commended their generous support. “As is often the case, human tragedy evokes moral goodness”, he said. “The citizens of Martha’s Vineyard have shown us all how common humanity motivates generosity and effective kindness”.
Cardinal O'Malley: immigration policies are a moral challenge
In his statement, the US Cardinal, who also heads the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, reminded that immigration policies and practices stand as an “abiding moral, legal and political challenge” to the country, and noted that for far too long the United States have delayed developing an effective response to immigrants, migrants, and refugees “at a moment when the movement of men, women, children, and families surpasses any other known example in our history”.
“Our common humanity is the lens through which our response to immigrants and refugees must be judged”, Cardinal O’Malley emphasized, recalling that Pope Francis has made the plight of immigrants and refugees a constant theme of his pontificate.